May 2, 2006
Duke Lacrosse:
University says that team should be able to resume playing next season. Hopefully, the school will also implement very strict oversight.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Donald Sterling gets the last laugh.

Old conventional wisdom: The Clippers' owner is a money-grubbing monster ignoring an abysmally incompetent franchise.

New conventional wisdom: The Clippers' owner manages to smartly turn a profit, using hands-off management to lead a winning playoff team.

When the Clippers beat the Nuggets last night to clinch their first playoff series win in 30 years (and the first since the franchise moved to L.A. in 1984), they also officially shed a long-standing albatross:

"Worst Franchise in Sports."

Do you realize that for fans of a certain age (say, under 18), they don't know the Clippers as the laughingstock of the NBA?

At least for this decade, they've had an "up-and-coming" tag; now they are one of only 8 teams to make the NBA's quarterfinal round. The Clippers might very well be favored to advance to the conference finals if they get to play their Staples Center roommate next.

It's time to stop the jokes, the cracks about the "Crappers" and the magazine covers with fans wearing bags over their heads.

These Clippers are legit. Thumped a division winner in 5 games. Anchored by an All-Star big man. Feature a backcourt combining one of the NBA's most clutch winners (Sam Cassell) and one of its most intriguing young talents (Shaun Livingston). They are positioned to win now and in the future.

What a stunning development that the Clippers have become a feisty, likeable, winning team, while there's a venerable franchise out there that has taken over the Clippers' shed title of "Worst Team in Sports":

The Knicks.

Damon Gets Booed
"The fans aren't booing me," Johnny Damon said. "They're booing the uniform."

No, guy, they're booing you.

Damon isn't an Idiot anymore: Now he's simply delusional if he thinks he didn't burn a bridge with fans when he bolted for the Yankees.

(When Damon doffed his helmet in the 1st, then he looked like an idiot.)

This was no mixed reception from fans; the boos drowned out the scattered cheers. Perhaps that partly explains why Damon went 0-4.

Adding insult to insult, ex-teammate David Ortiz continued to play Yankee-killer, bashing a 3-run HR in the 8th to break the game open.

And adding insult to insult to insult, Fenway fans gave knuckle-specialist catcher Doug Mirabelli, who arrived at the park via trade minutes before game time, a standing O.

Don't think Red Sox fans didn't recognize that cheering Mirabelli was also a backhanded tweak at Damon.

Red Wings Bounced
"America is addicted to oil."
If this is the rush I get from addiction to Oil(ers), I don't want to conserve. This was the type of shocking game and series result that make the NHL playoffs so awesome.

As the Western Conference's top seed, the Wings were bounced by the 8th-seeded Oilers in 6 games in the type of series finale that can convince you this upset was meant to be (or even called in advance):

Trailing 2-0 heading into the 3rd period, the Oilers rallied to tie the game at 2. Then, down 3-2, they scored two more times -- including the game-winner with a minute to go.

Boris Diaw: Wins NBA's Most Improved (Quickie pick, too)
Bronson Arroyo: Pitches 4-hit shutout (2nd CG of career)
Jimmie Johnson: Takes points lead with Monday W at 'Dega
John Green: Fan who sparked Palace brawl sentenced 1 mth
Pete Rose Jr: Sentenced to 1 month for drug distribution
Minor-league umps: Give labor settlement the "ol' Delmon"
Detroit had the NHL's best regular-season record. Real value? Meaningless. (Imagine the Pistons losing to the Bucks in 6.)

Speaking of oil addiction: The Red Wings, playoff duds for a third straight year, might want to try to develop a "hybrid" model: Regular-season and playoff success.

My Bad: Kobe Rules
On Monday, I wrote that Kobe had certainly established himself as a More Valuable Player (if not the "Most") than he did in the regular season.

What I did not do was appropriately credit Phil Jackson. Following the Lakers' Game 1 loss, I criticized Phil's strategy to get the entire team involved and rein Kobe in. I even projected Kobe's frustration.

Maybe I was just projecting my own frustration as a fan that Kobe didn't tee off like I thought he would (or like I wanted him to).

Kobe's new interest in selfless leadership resulted from Phil's strategy, which has bolstered the confidence of his team -- from star to bench -- and completely baffled the Suns.

My bad for not giving Phil more credit.

Reggie Bush: No. 5?
Can Reggie Bush wear No. 5? The NFL reportedly will decide today whether to grant Bush's petition to wear his unique jersey number in the pros.

Usually, running backs have to wear numbers from 20-49, but it's time for the NFL to relax the rules.

I can't believe that fans will be confused by a running back wearing No. 5; they have seen players in college football wearing nontraditional numbers for years, without incident.

Give fans credit for being able to match player name with position. I doubt too many fans will say, "Why is No. 5 lined up as a running back? I'm so confused? I don't like this game!"

And please don't argue that it hurts the game's integrity: The NFL relaxed the rules for receivers, who now wear numbers from 11-19 in addition to the traditional 80-89.

Fans figured it out, the game wasn't tainted, the players were happy -- and they look pretty cool, too.

By the way, in the two days since the draft, Bush's jersey has already set a new NFL record for jersey sales, writes Darren Rovell.

(And so the bottom line is also the bottom line: If having a more marketable number will help sell more jerseys, it's not going to hurt the sport to change the system.)

Draft: Bloom or Bust?
In yesterday's Quickie "Odds and Ends" about the NFL draft, I posted that Olympic return guy Jeremy Bloom will end up the most popular player on the Eagles next season.

I got an interesting rebuttal e-mail from Eagles fanalyst A.J. Daulerio:

"The thing about Bloom: He's really, really gotta be good to become a true fan favorite. You have to think of who the fan favorites are in Philly. 'Cute boys' aren't really up there. (Sal Fasano, however? Total stud.)

"Unless Bloom breaks a couple long returns this year, he'll be called a wuss. The female fan contingency will love him -- briefly -- but if he doesn't make an impact he's going to get beat up. Von Hayes Syndrome."

As news items warrant, I'll analyze new celebrity baby names for sports (and personal) relevance.

Today's entry: Gianna Bryant
Born: Monday, May 1
Parents: Kobe/Vanessa Bryant
Analysis: Was hoping for a name like "81" or "MVP," but I'm really intrigued to see what kind of inspiration Kobe finds from Gianna tonight.
Applicable? "Gianna Shanoff?"
"N" sounds are complementary.

Bonus entry! Mearah O'Neal
Born: Monday, May 1
Parents: Shaq/Shaunie O'Neal
Analysis: Shaq will have a lot of time to spend with his third daughter if the Heat lose this playoff series to Chicago.
Applicable? "Mearah Shanoff?"
Would be a little too close to my brother's name, Mark.

Tribeca Film Festival
Continuing Quickie coverage of the "sports" films being screened in my hometown:

Today: "Heart of the Game." Boys prep basketball has become so professionalized, the memory of "Hoop Dreams" seems quaint.

100-point scorers notwithstanding, maybe high school girls basketball is the new high school boys basketball. This documentary is "Hoop Dreams"-esque in its earnestness.

Enjoy it now, before prep girls hoops becomes as big business as the boys' side.

John Daly:
In his new book, the golfer says he lost between $50 million and $60 million over 12 years of heavy gambling. The question is: Was the gambling on golf or more benign? (If losing $50 mil can be "benign.")
Today on
Quickie: Live!
NBA Daily Dime
Page 2 Index
Sports Names in "Time 100"
Brian France
NASCAR leader loves NYC
Michelle Wie
Eh: This was so LAST year
Steve Nash
Kobe finds new motivation!
Joey Cheek
Stole Olympic spotlight
Franz Beckenbauer
T-minus 5 weeks to WC06

NBA Tonight: 3 series (IND-NJ, CHI-MIA, SAC-SA) hit pivotal Game 5 tied 2-2 playing at higher-seed arena; Lakers can KO Suns tonight in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, the Mavs swept the Grizz, giving Dallas its first-ever 7-game series sweep and keeping Memphis winless in playoff games (0-for-12).

The Astros want to meet with Clemens' agent to talk about bringing him back. I assume Rocket will wait a while to see how the standings shake out.

World Cup Mania: Bruce Arena unveils the U.S. roster today for next month's World Cup. High expectations for a squad ranked Top 5 in the world.

The assault on Dolphins DE Jason Taylor was reclassified as a hate crime. I'm still wondering what nut job would attack an NFL defensive lineman.

Due to a weird NFL-NCAA rule, new Steelers WR Santonio Holmes will have to wait until June to report to Pittsburgh mini-camp, three weeks late.

Happy 31st birthday, David Beckham. Here's a b-day wish I'm sure your fans are sending: Can you heal Wayne Rooney in time for the World Cup?

Have you seen the Time 100 list of the most influential people who shape our world? Five sports-related names were included. See Big 5 for the list.

NYC readers: Don't forget that Wednesday I'll be hosting my monthly sports-reading series at Happy Ending Lounge. More info coming tomorrow.

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